I know Valentine’s Day is coming up and I also know there’s going to be a fight at our house. I really don’t see the need to make a big deal over a date that Hallmark has decided to capitalize on when I show my spouse I love her in other ways. Can you please offer some guidance here?
I’m really glad you wrote in about this topic—it’s probably one that resonates for a lot of other people.
You are certainly right that February 14th, being a special day to commemorate love by creating Valentine’s Day is what many would consider a Hallmark moment. Since I’m not a historian, I don’t really know the background of what started this tradition, but as a relationships expert, I surely know it has taken on a great deal of significance in the world of couples. As a matter of fact, it was just the topic of my monthly newsletter at drkarensherman.com.
Our society, even with its high divorce rate, is still very much a couples’ society—very much into romance. And so, Valentine’s Day does have meaning. As humans, we also tend to compare ourselves to others. Your wife is likely to look to her friends and relatives and feel as though she wasn’t cared about because nothing special was done for her.
Sometimes, people just need markers; something that says, "You matter." It’s really hard to say where this need originates from—it might be what you’ve learned as a child or it could be that it’s what everyone else is doing. And, it’s not necessarily gender related. I’m reminded of a former male client. He felt very strongly that on his birthday, he wanted his birthday cards mailed to him—even from his wife. To him, that behavior indicated he was cared about.
If you know that some gesture of acknowledgement of Valentine’s Day is important to your wife, why not give it to her? You state that by not doing so it will cause a fight. Seems that the answer to this dispute is pretty logical. I don’t want you to feel that your needs aren’t being taken into consideration, therefore, you can remind her that the need to "prove" your love seems really annoying to you. But because she means so much to you, you are willing to do something minor.
Remember, couples come into their relationship with very different backgrounds and needs. The challenge is to bridge between those differences. By giving her something small, you will have met both sets of needs.
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last.